Hell hath no fury as a customer scorned, and heaven hath no advocate like a customer who just won a free juicer.
In other words, keep your customer happy because there are numerous benefits to doing so for your company other than the initial sale.
So, what exactly is a brand advocate? A brand advocate is basically a very satisfied customer whose joy you can harness to increase brand awareness, boost sales, and improve your brand’s reputation.
Brand advocates voluntarily spread the word about how great your brand is, both on social media and other platforms such as Trustpilot and Yelp. That’s right, brand advocates do it in their free time, free of charge, because they just really like that VoIP system you’re selling, for example.
On top of that, they influence the buying decisions of other prospective clients through social media and encourage word of mouth.
The power of brand advocates cannot be underestimated. Almost 75% of consumers say that word-of-mouth is a key influencer in their purchasing decision. What’s more, 42% of consumers say that they distrust messaging coming directly from brands. This is likely because people know that brands want to sell, sell, and sell. On the other hand, consumers have no such motive, so all you have to trust is their opinion and taste.
Brand advocates just want to spread the love.
So how do you find these amazing, super helpful customers, you may ask? Well, you don’t need to find them; you just need to help them blossom. There’s an art to creating brand advocates, and sales training can be a useful introduction to a few handy tips and tricks your staff and colleagues can use to recruit brand advocates.
For now, however, you can take a gander at the tips laid out in this article.
1. Get on your customers’ level
The first thing you need to do is to understand who your customers are. What are their values? What matters to them? What do they eat for breakfast? Once you have the answer to these questions, you need to hone in on them, and these answers could potentially help you reach your goals. For example, you might find that most of your customers tend to care about the environment, so you could try and source eco-friendly packaging and delivery options.
Some companies plant a tree every time they make a sale. Some offer more and more recycled goods or inform their customers of the steps they’ve taken to reduce their carbon footprint. Whatever your customers value, make sure you find out exactly what it is. Then find ways to communicate how your brand and your products meet those values with a proposal generating software.
The reason for this is to sell more than just a product – you want to sell a way of thinking, a set of values, a culture. This separates simple shops from actual brands. And brands and ideas are what advocates promote, not just products.
2. Show your authenticity
Since many people don’t fully trust messaging coming directly from a brand’s marketing department, you want to try and humanize the face of your business. Show your customers who the people behind the scenes are.
Some clothing companies have gone so far as to include a number in every garment which corresponds to the particular worker who sewed that specific garment. Buyers can then go to the company’s website, look up the VoIP number and see a profile page for that worker. It’s a part of the digital customer journey.
Other companies, especially marketing agencies, often have a page dedicated to all of the people who work for them, with a picture and short paragraph for each individual. They sometimes get creative and release seasonal, homemade videos for their customers from their staff.
The trick, in part, is to spend less time trying to be what you think people want and more time showing who you really are. When a company tries too hard, it shows. Be authentic, and engage with your customers through mediums they’re familiar with (such as fun TikTok videos, Instagram, or Youtube). It’s now easier than ever to engage with your customers – our phones are designed for social media communication.
Humanizing your company makes it more likable and understandable – after all, you’re just a person, or group of people, putting something out there into the world. It can seem like an RPA challenge (Robotic Process Automation) because humanizing yourself might seem counterintuitive when we are increasingly automating everything, but these are not incompatible. You just have to decide which parts to automate and which parts to humanize.
3. Invite your followers and customers to make their own material
Many companies now host BYOD competitions on social media platforms that involve people creating content, tagging relevant companies, and using hashtags to raise brand awareness. In return, one or several lucky social media users get to win a paddleboard, a mug, or some other cool freebie.
When you run competitions, you’re exposing your brand to not just your existing followers but many of their followers. The impact can potentially be huge. If someone tags you in their story on Instagram, you can then reshare it on your own Instagram story – free material!
Some companies invite their followers to produce art or take selfies with items from their company for the chance to win vouchers to spend in-store. These competitions can be fun and rewarding for the customers. They massively increase engagement and ultimately increase footfall.
Even a simple giveaway can increase the number of followers you have, as well as brand awareness. It can also be one of several effective check-in email lead-generating strategies.
4. Answer your messages
One thing that makes particular companies more memorable than others is good customer service. This can be as simple as answering a comment on your Instagram posts. This concept circles back to humanizing yourself to your customers.
People are generally pleasantly surprised to find their comments met with a cheerful answer rather than the deafening echo of a faceless void. We are not alone in the universe, after all, it seems.
One way to make time for this is to streamline other processes with ecommerce automation.
5. Reward loyalty
Some companies forget about their established, steadfast customers, and what a shame that is. Why should someone who’s been with your brand for years pay more for a product than someone who’s just joined? You don’t want to accidentally punish your most loyal customers by focusing solely on the newbies.
Show these folks that they’re valued, or they’ll find someone else who does make them feel valued. You could start a loyalty program and reward your tried and true customers for sharing on social media, buying add-ons, renewing their subscriptions, and so on. Reward them with what, though? Loyalty points and faster lead time!
Loyalty points can then be exchanged for discounts and deals. Website personalization tools are superb for creating a tailor-made on-site experience for each of your customers, including customer-specific products and ranges.
6. Reward referrals
You can harness people’s tendency to trust personal referrals over brand advertising and give an extra incentive to make those referrals through the “Free Stuff” medium.
Discounts are a great way of getting someone who might feel uncertain about your brand to try it out and hopefully find out that they really love what you’re selling – enough to pay full price for the next item. And then, like a domino chain, they can end up referring another friend for more “Free Stuff”.
People love to feel like they’re winning something; it can be kind of addicting.
7. Put your customers in the spotlight
The biggest tip for turning customers into brand advocates is to put them at the front and center of the brand. While your brand might be your baby, you’re giving that baby to others to enjoy and incorporate into their daily existence. What should matter most is your service or product’s impact on the people who purchase it.
Your customers are your lifeblood. If they don’t like what you’re selling, then you’re probably not making many sales. Customer satisfaction shouldn’t be an add-on policy in your company – it should be at the very core.
You can develop a good onboarding experience for customers by explaining how your products should be used and things to be aware of and offering an FAQs page. Being contactable to discuss any issues also helps greatly with customer satisfaction.
The interaction doesn’t end at the sale – it goes further; into maintenance, usability, and follow-ups. You can ask your customers for feedback and reviews, allowing you to address any concerns before these end up on an independent review site like Yelp. It also shows your customers that you care about their experience and won’t just lumber them with a faulty product and run.
Opening the dialogue for any customer complaints and issues with the service is key to good customer service.
You also must ensure your staff possesses the required skills to interact with customers: they should be active listeners, communicate clearly, and get on the customer’s level. A single bad experience can send half of the customers to a different, competing company.
Brand advocates are just very satisfied customers
Positive engagement really takes to turn a regular customer into a brand advocate. By humanizing your brand, putting the customer first, understanding your customer, and making the experience of interacting with your brand rewarding on multiple levels, you can start to shift your customers into brand advocates.